Let’s take back Arctic history in Scotland

Faithful readers (hi, mom!) will recognize this image of Abbotsford from my book Celtic Lightning.  The historical novelist Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) created this castle-like residence, now a museum, 40 miles south of Edinburgh in the Scottish Borders. Sheena shot the photo a few years ago, when last we visited.

End of March, I have a fighting chance of getting back to Abbotsford, thanks to a new “friendship bridge” that extends between the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.  I have fallen heir to a whirlwind, four-day speaking tour, and one of the places I will visit is Galashiels (see image below), which is three miles from Scott’s creation.

My presentation is entitled Let’s Take Back Arctic History: The John Rae Story. I argue that the  orthodox or ‘official’ version of Arctic exploration history focuses almost exclusively on Royal Navy officers, omitting the contributions of Canada’s indigenous peoples and fur-trade explorers like that peerless Scottish-Orcadian John Rae.

Those who have read Fatal Passage or Dead Reckoning will know where this is going. Anyway, if you find yourself in Scotland on May 26, 27, 28 or 29, you can catch my song-and-dance, successively, in Dumfries, Galashiels, Ayr, and Helensburgh. No, no, please don’t feel obligated to attend in more than one venue, or two at most, and by no means should you make a special trip from Canada — not unless you are flying on points. Hope to see you in Galashiels!

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